Hiring too few S'poreans: 38 firms flagged

Office workers in Singapore's central business district.
Office workers in Singapore's central business district. PHOTO: ST FILE

Out of the 150 firms that the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) called in for talks over the past year, 38 have been identified for "closer scrutiny" for not doing enough to hire and groom Singaporeans, Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say said yesterday, giving the breakdown for the first time.

These firms will have their Employment Pass (EP) applications looked at more closely by the ministry, and could even be banned from hiring foreign professionals if they do not cooperate, he added.

They will be asked to provide details for EP applications, such as the number of Singaporeans who applied and were interviewed for the posts, and whether existing Singaporean employees were considered for the posts.

"Should there be 'double weak' firms that are unresponsive or uncooperative, they will have their EP privileges curtailed," said Mr Lim in a post on the MOM blog. He was referring to companies with a low ratio of Singaporeans to foreigners compared with the industry average, and who are weak in their commitment to fair consideration of Singaporeans when it comes to hiring and developing staff.

Mr Lim said this additional scrutiny was part of MOM's efforts to enhance the Fair Consideration Framework, introduced last year to get companies to look for suitable Singaporeans before hiring foreign professionals.

On top of the 150 firms, another 100 firms were also identified for MOM to work with as they have unusually high proportions of foreigners for their industries, which include infocomm, finance and insurance, construction, and wholesale trade.

The ministry will instruct firms on its watchlist to step up efforts to train and upgrade Singaporean professionals, managers and executives, and transfer knowledge from foreign staff to Singaporeans, said Mr Lim. "Over time, more Singaporeans will be qualified to take on these opportunities and challenges," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 14, 2015, with the headline 'Hiring too few S'poreans: 38 firms flagged'. Print Edition | Subscribe